FIRST RESPONDER PROGRAM
Our purpose is to provide confidential assistance to all First Responder personnel (Enlisted and Civilian) and their families, advocating for the mental and emotional health of our first responder family.
ACCESS EAP is a Peer based Employee Assistance Program. Our program is made up of “Peer Support Officers” who volunteer their time to help anyone who may need assistance with issues related to stress, depression, substance abuse, family, grief, financial issues, and more. Our program is available 24 hours, 7 days a week. We are committed to providing you confidential assistance whenever you may need help. Appointments and meetings with Peer Support Officers are provided at no cost.
ACCESS EAP employs highly skilled retired police officers who serve as consultants in our program. These retired officers have extensive experience in Law Enforcement and, more importantly, have specialized skills in Police Peer Support Training. Our consultants not only advise and create our policies and procedures, but also conduct the training of our Peer Support Officers (PSO). All PSO’s are initially required to take 24 hours of training over 3 days and receive training and certification in Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) from the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation. A licensed psychologist, who is specifically trained in Police Peer Support, also takes part in the PSO's initial training. Quarterly educational meetings are held annually for the PSO’s and each must attend at least 8 hours of training annually.
ACCESS EAP recognizes that personnel, in the course of their assigned duties, may encounter incidents that result in varying degrees of emotional and psychological trauma. Unaddressed, Critical Incident Stress can lead to serious problems which may affect the ability of personnel to function in a well-adjusted, productive manner. This stress may disrupt the emotional balance at the workplace and at home with our families. By understanding the effects of Critical Incident Stress and employing Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) procedures, personnel will be taking an active part in restoring stability and wellness to their daily life.
Critical Incidents can include, but are not limited to, incidents which involve:
- The use of deadly force either by or against personnel
- The death or injury of civilians present at an incident
- A catastrophic or mass disaster
- Injury or death to a child
Defusings and Debriefings are conducted for all personnel affected by Critical/Traumatic Incidents. Peer Support Officers are trained to identify signs that personnel may be traumatized at Critical Incidents. Peer Support Officers provide suggestions on how to manage the stress and emotional reactions that can occur from a Critical Incident.
Substance Abuse (Drugs and Alcohol) is a major concern today due to the difficulties and dichotomy that this problem presents, not only in the First Responder field, but also in one's personal life. Substance abuse can occur through the excessive use of alcohol and illegal drugs, prescription and non-prescription. If continued, substance abuse can and will have a significant impact on an individual's health, career, and personal life.
Based on these factors, each agency that we are affiliated with encourages all of its Personnel, as well as family members, to utilize ACCESS EAP for assistance in finding treatment for their addiction. All first responder Personnel and their families are ensured CONFIDENTIALITY concerning any substance abuse problem except for “harm to self” or “harm to others”. ACCESS EAP has researched the best possible facilities and resources to be of aid to YOU. Reaching out for assistance is the first step in getting help for any problem. Let ACCESS EAP help you help yourself or your loved one.
ACCESS EAP and its Peer Support Officers strictly adhere to rules of CONFIDENTIALITY which protects the privacy of anyone who reaches out to us.
Procedurally, there are two scenarios that Peer Support Officers cannot keep confidential:
- A person poses a clear and present danger to himself
- A person poses a clear and present danger to others
Some important things to note:
- Peer Support Officers do not take notes of any kind during or after a peer session.
- Content of a meeting with a Peer Support Officers, or the fact that a person has even spoken with a Peer Support Officer cannot be revealed without a signed written release from the individual.
- The use of your Mental Health Benefits is CONFIDENTIAL and the individual’s agency is not advised of the use of any of these benefits.
Laws regarding confidentiality in Pennsylvania are Title 42 (5950 - Confidential communications involving law enforcement officers) and (5952 - Confidential communications to peer support members)
We are all brothers and sisters.
If you see someone struggling after a bad call or with a personal issue, encourage them to contact a Peer Support Officer, the ACCESS EAP office or the 24-hour hotline at 800-248-1688.